Hartley comes out of retirement

18 January 2005

Fergal Hartley
Waterford’s hopes of ending their All-Ireland hurling famine this year have received a major boost with the news that former captain Fergal Hartley is to rejoin the county panel.

The 33-year-old, who captained the Decies to their first Munster title success in 39 years in 2002, announced his retirement from inter-county hurling in the wake of the side’s All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Wexford at Nowlan Park in July 2003. That game also marked the end of the inter-county road for fellow veterans Peter Queally and Brian Greene.

Hartley resisted several pleas to reconsider his retirement decision last year as he was concentrating on setting up his own business. However, he is now ready to resume his inter-county career and is expected to take part in a trial game next week.

The news has been warmly welcomed by Waterford secretary Seamus Grant, who believes that had Hartley, along with the suspended John Mullane, been available for last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny, there might have been a different outcome.

"He is a naturally gifted player, always in great physical shape and it is my belief that he will be a huge addition to the panel," Grant said.

The Waterford secretary said Cork’s Brian Corcoran is an example of how players can successfully make a comeback. "If Fergal can make the same impact as Corcoran, we’ll be happy."